The European Union has lifted sanctions against the Zimbabwe Mining Diamond Corp., clearing the way for the import of certain diamonds from the country’s Marange region.
Imports from formerly sanctioned mines—Marange Resources, Canadile, Mbada, Kimberworth Investments, and Diamond Mining Corp.—will be permitted, effective Sept. 25, according to a notice from Frieda Coosemans, adviser to the EU Authority in Belgium.
Their diamonds, and the ZMDC, remain subject to sanctions in the United States.
The EU’s decision was denounced by NGOs active on the issue.
“There are credible indications that at least one ZMDC joint venture company helped fund [ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front] ZANU-PF activities which have undermined the democratic process in Zimbabwe,” said Global Witness senior campaigner Emily Armistead in a statement. “The EU should have given more time to investigating these claims before lifting sanctions. Now it will be left to European consumers and jewelry companies to ensure that Zimbabwe’s tainted diamonds are not sold in our shops.”
A statement by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the Belgian industry group, seemed to approve of the change, noting it will let the formerly sanctioned diamonds “be sold at their optimal market value instead of the current lower prices in other markets.”
“This opening of the market for Antwerp-based trading companies should have a positive impact on the functioning of the market, mining income, on the necessary market transparency and importantly on a sustainable social and economic development of Zimbabwe,” the AWDC statement continued. “In addition, this decision will also improve the position of the EU within the [Kimberley Process]. The EU decision to maintain restrictive measures was incompatible with the decision taken at the KP Plenary meeting…to lift all measures on the trade of Marange diamonds.”
The ZMDC has been the subject of sanctions because of its links to Zimbabwe’s government. Last week, President Robert Mugabe reportedly accused the head of the corporation of “fraud.”